My Top 100 Movies – Part 5: #60 – #51
About the list
Please note that these are my favourite films, and as such some choices will be based on a personal sense of nostalgia (especially the top 5, once we eventually get there). There are movies that I have connections to that may rank them higher than you might expect. That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support. If you think something it too high or too low, let me know. I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.
Keep in mind that this list is not made in stone, and some films in the future may go up or down in my estimation, as is wont to happen. Also, there may be films that I haven’t seen yet which may take a spot on the list later. I guess what I’m saying is that this is my 100 at the present time, though its a pretty good indicator of my taste in films.
Hitchcock’s most notorious film, I can see why it would have caused waves in 1960. Not only because of the graphic murder scenes, but also because of the non-traditional story structure, particularly with the main character. Psycho is a masterpiece of horror; it looks great, it has incredibly creepy moments, an incredibly creepy villain, and suspense tailored by the best.
An excellent fantasy film inserted into a reality-based history, Pan’s Labyrinth tells the story of a young girl who is pulled into a world of magic during the Spanish civil war. The special effects are outstanding and feel very organic in this world. The fantasy elements are used just sparingly enough to be their most effective. Meanwhile the ending, while open to interpretation, is oddly satisfying.
58. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
This is one of those movies which gets better with each watch. At first glance, it is an odd film. There’s no villain or even threat, other than Roy’s own obsession. There’s no real conflict-based climax. Its just story of mystery and wonder, all culminating with that grand ship rising above Devil’s Tower. There are some great moments in Close Encounters, starting with the Railway stop scene in the truck, moving on to the mashed potatoes, the UFO chase, and pretty much the entire last 15 or 20 minutes.
57. The African Queen
Two screen legends share the screen for the first (and only?) time in this excellent adventure film by John Huston. Bogie and Hepburn are two unlikely companions caught together in a river boat in Africa at the start of the first world war. They are attempting to escape the Germans as well as avoid dangers like rapids, marshes, leeches, etc. The crew actually filmed in Africa, so there is a strong feeling of authenticity in the photography. And the two performances really make us care for these two characters. Great film, don’t pass it over.
56. The Sixth Sense
M. Night Shyamalan has become a joke now, but back in 1999 he was being praised for his directorial debut The Sixth Sense. And for good reason. This is a meticulous thriller with a strong vision of how to build suspense which goes deeper than jump scares and scary masks. Its a ghost story which unfortunately has been reduced in the mainstream consciousness to just its ending. And while the ending is outstanding and wraps up the movie almost perfectly, there is a lot more to the movie than that.
55. Citizen Kane
Often hailed as the best movie of all time, Citizen Kane is a great study of cinematography, story structure, and symbolism. I don’t profess to be a cinematography expert by any stretch, but I know what I like, and this movie looks great. From the falling snow globe to the massive fireplace, this is such a well-constructed private world. It also has some outstanding dialogue. New viewers may find it a little on the slow side, but its a movie which appreciates with age.
54. The Bridge on the River Kwai
David Lean is one of those classic film-makers who focused on naturalism and authenticity in his pictures. In Bridge on the River Kwai he takes we the audience to the jungles of Burma. The jungle feels real, the bridge they build feels real. Why? Because they were. The train on the bridge sequence feels real. Why? Because it was. And the human drama feels real. This is an awesome war film and a great motion picture epic.
53. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Sometimes straight up sentimentalism and idealism on film works. Mr. Smith is one of the best examples of that. In this movie we see a humble, honest man try yo make his way as a politician in Washington. We cheer for him because he is the every man working against corruption. He love watching him because Jimmy Stewart and the screenplay create such a likable character.
52. Dark City
This film noir science fiction made little fanfare when it was released, but over time it has developed a cult following. I still remember the first time I watched it not knowing a damn thing about it. I didn’t know the plot or even the main concept. When Murdock woke up in that tub not knowing what was going on, neither did I. And unraveling the mystery was a great movie watching experience.
51. The Passion of the Christ
This is a polarizing film, as any film with this much of a religious base would be by its very nature. Some people have derided it for Mel Gibson’s overuse of violence. Others have claimed that it doesn’t have enough of a Christian message in it. But for myself, I find it to be a powerful look at the most important figure in our history on the most important day of our history. The sets, costumes, even the choice to film it entirely in the ancient languages of Jerusalem all help to make it feel as real as possible behind a camera. The story really only deals with the trial and crucifixion of Jesus rather than his whole life, and its important to recognize that, but well-timed flashbacks do give us a sense of his past and the final moment of the film really drives it home.
I know it wont work for everyone, but many people have appreciated what this film set out to do, and I am one of them.